Homeschooling Why and How

Life Provides our Curriculum

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Life Provides Our Curriculum

We are what is known as “unstructured” homeschoolers.  We trust in our son’s inner drive and curiosity to compel him to learn what he needs to know.  This is in contrast to its opposite where “authorities”  (bureaucrats in the school system, parents in homeschooling families) believe they know best what the child should learn and insist the child learn those things.  Either approach can end up with a highly educated child and which approach one tends toward depends on ones temperament and philosophical beliefs.
So our “curriculum” for the last 6 months has been marbles, because this is what Thumper is totally “into”.  He has thoroughly studied 2 books on marbles, practically memorizing them and has searched at least 375 antique stores and booths in his quest to have a complete collection.  Along the way he’s learned how marbles are made (art, science, geology), when they were made and some about other antiques (history, anthropology, archeology), and in his buying, selling & trading marbles and other items, he’s acquired grade level math skills without ever having any formal math.  Now we’re starting a book–cataloging and photographing his collection, including listing values.  He plans to include some articles that he’s collected, including one cover story on marbles from the “Smithsonian” magazine.  Did you know that marbles have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs?  He also was hired at minimum wage by an antique store owner to sort his marbles by type and value because the man was impressed with Thumper’s knowledge in the field.  Next Thumper will gather them into $5 bags and then sell them for a commission.  Now he’s into digging in ancient dumpsites for marbles and antique bottles and has begun to show interest in archaeology.
Besides marbles, we also do whatever crafts or science projects strike our fancy.  He loves to draw and now has three drawings posted on the wall of the largest comics store on Maui.  And we read lots of books because we both love good literature (Huckleberry Finn right now). I am continually amazed at his level of general knowledge, especially when I hear him explaining things to his schooled friends, all of whom are older than he. His broad knowledge comes not only from our voracious reading but also from the fact that he spends his time outside classrooms and so has  rich and varied experience in the real world.
We tried doing a bit of phonics, but found it was  extremely boring and not particularly helpful, so we dropped it.  After reviewing Reading Without Nonsense, I decided to let natural learning prevail here, too. He’s learning to read and write in the same way he learned how to talk, without sitting down to any formal lessons, and though he isn’t at grade level, he is progressing at a good rate and I have total confidence that it won’t be long before he’ll have mastered reading and writing — as he has talking!
This year I needed to show progress on “our curriculum” as an alternative to Thumper taking the SAT.  I had doubts about my principle accepting “marbles and projects and living” as a curriculum so I wrote up what is our real curriculum anyway–the things I really feel are important to learn in these years before age 10 or so.  Below is what I submitted.  We’ve never found it necessary to formally teach any of this as life fully lived provides all the lessons we’ve needed.

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